Morgan Stanley Lending Pro Joins Rockefeller Capital
In his latest invasion of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management’s management suite, the firm’s former president Greg Fleming has tapped its former high-net-worth lending head Michael Brakey to put together a credit and and banking business for his new venture at Rockefeller Capital Management.
The move follows Rockefeller’s announcement last week that it had hired Morgan Stanley Wealth’s chief information officer, Christopher Randazzo, to run its wealth business alongside other advisors and operations executives who had previously worked with Fleming.
Brakey joined Morgan Stanley in 2011 after almost 25 years at Merrill Lynch, where Fleming served as president and investment banker before jumping to the rival wirehouse in 2009.
Brakey was in charge of the wirehouse’s “high-net-worth” lending effort until last summer when he was replaced by Tim Pubins and moved to a “field engagement” position to help advisors sell credit products, a Morgan Stanley spokeswoman said.
His departure comes as Morgan Stanley Chief Executive officer James Gorman has been incentivizing his troops to step up loan sales to wealthy clients and collect deposits from them. The firm’s goal is to capture the healthy spreads enjoyed by bank-owned competitors at Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and Wells Fargo Advisors, he has told the company’s investors.
Brakey, who will join Rockefeller Capital’s operating committee, will begin his duties in June after he fulfills his ‘garden leave’ obligations, a Rockefeller spokeswoman said.
Fleming on Monday said he has hired Grace Yoon, a former Morgan Stanley managing director, to be Rockefeller’s chief operations officer of strategic advisory and initiatives. She had been a managing director charged with helping brokers win advisor and asset management business from Morgan Stanley’s investment banking clients before leaving last March. In the interim, she has worked as a consultant to financial services company clients at Ernst & Young, according to Rockefeller.
Like Brakey and Fleming, she also has been a Merrill official, serving as that firm’s director of investor relations and then as an equity capital markets banker from 2008 to 2012, according to her LinkedIn biography.
At Rockefeller, Fleming has articulated plans to use new capital from hedge fund Viking Global Investors to build out a broad wealth management business along with a banking advisory arm. While he taps management talent from Morgan Stanley, his plans to add advisors are likely a more distant prospect.
The firm must enhance its wealth technology and lay the groundwork for persuading advisors to join the much smaller advisory firm at a time when Morgan Stanley and UBS Financial Services have made it more difficult for brokers to leave with their client books in hand.
“The nonProtocol status makes a move more complicated, but won’t be prohibitive,” said Mindy Diamond, of recruiting firm Diamond Consultants. “The [Rockefeller] name alone is sexy and Greg Fleming’s reputation and the Morgan Stanley leadership he is bringing over will get people to the table.”
Diamond, who said she has had preliminary conversations with some advisors about where Rockefeller may be headed, cautioned that it is not actively recruiting advisors right now. “It will be six to nine months before Rockefeller is ready for prime time,” she said. “Greg is building almost from scratch.”
—Jed Horowitz contributed to this story.